Friday, November 19, 2010


Though I only read 1990s titles from Image Comics as occasional quarter-books, I'd find it interesting to see someone attempt a sociological study of "The Image of Women in Nineties Image Books." For better or worse (and most fans would say the latter), Image promulgated more titles starring female characters in that decade than any comics-company since Fiction House.

Of course, Nineties Image built its success with heroines through a "Victoria's Secret" approach to the female of the species, an approach not that different than what one found in the old Fiction House titles. I don't fault Image for having used sex to sell books, only for using sex to sell dull books.

However, one three-issue series proved an exception to the posture-and-moan aesthetic of many Image titles. This was VELOCITY, a three-issue series spinning off the adventures of a super-fast heroine from the super-team "Cyberforce," written by Kurt Busiek and pencilled by Anthony Chun.

The story arc describes a simple "rite of passage" for the young and rather timid superheroine Velocity. She's relentlesly pursued by a shapechanging villain named Charnel, who's aware that she's afraid of him and decides to prolong her agonies by hunting her before he kills her. By issue #3 Velocity must finally "woman up" to overcome her fears and find a means to stop the near-invulnerable Charnel. This may not be the only time an Image character actually *thinks* in order to counter an opponent, but it's the only time *I've* seen it.

As a side-note, Charnel in his "normal" form is depicted as a huge, steroidal brute-- in other words, he looks like most of the Image heroes. In contrast Velocity is not like the more frequent "Victoria's Secret" Image heroine: she has character and brains-- which makes her closer in spirit to a Silver Age superhero, like Velocity's ancestor "The Flash." Did the authors, intentionally or otherwise, structure a faceoff in which "Silver Age," represented by rational thought and planning, overcomes the brute force of "the Iron Age?" A tempting thought, if not one I'd argue all that vehemently.

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